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Product Manager Vs Project Manager

The roles of the Product Manager and the Project Manager are often confused, however, they are very different on a number of levels. Companies that need to remain competitive in the business landscape of today will have a need for both product management and project management.

You will find that even the most experienced high-level business professionals will confuse the roles of the two. So let’s define these two terms along with some other terms that can clear the air.  Nowadays, a project manager with a PMP Certification is preferred in all the reputed organizations.

What is Product Management?

The Product Management function within a company deals with the development, projecting, manufacture and promotion of products at all stages of the product’s life cycle.

What is Project Management?

The Project management function, in contrast, is involved with the processes of application, the methods, information, skills, and know-how necessary to achieve a project’s objectives.

What is a Product?

This is any one thing that satisfies a want or need that can be offered to a market to provide a solution for their problem.

A product has a life cycle that has many stages. The product moves through the stages of conception, development, introduction, and management in the market. When the need for the product is lowered then the product is finally retired from the market.

What is a Project?

A project is a temporary undertaking to create a unique product or service. The project will have a clear definition of deliverables and a specific timeline to completion.

How Do They Both Overlap?

A product is developed in the context of a project. Oftentimes a product’s life cycle will take it through a number of different projects. A product doesn’t require a clear definition of what is to be delivered but a project, on the other hand, must have a clear definition of deliverables. With the evolution of customer or user needs over time products will have to evolve so that they will continue to serve the needs of these users.

The reason there are no clear deadlines with products is that when a user wants a product they expect to have it right away and not at some distant time in the future. This is why a product will go through various projects throughout its lifecycle. Users will continually want new features and improvements with the product over time and with each new feature, a new project will need to be engaged.

Responsibilities of a Product Manager VS a Project Manager

The Product Manager

The product manager is responsible for the product strategy. They will create a goal-first approach to building and managing the product. The product manager is responsible for creating initiatives that will lead to the achievement of these goals. By taking this approach the features necessary to achieve the specified goals are determined. The product manager answers the following questions;

  • What is the specific problem that this product solves?
  • What is being built?
  • What will be the benefits of this product/feature?

Product managers own the strategy, releases, ideation, features, go-to-market, organizational training and profit, and loss.

The Project Manager

The project manager does not need to be concerned with the specific goals of the product. Their focus is more on the actual project itself. The project manager will take the product features and initiative and use these to create a timeline. The timeline will take into consideration the potential constraints brought about by resources, risks, and scope. Project Managers answer the following questions;

  • What are the necessary resources?
  • What is the deadline for delivery of the project?
  • Who will be carrying out what task?

Project managers own the budget, the delivery, the resources, the capacity, organization across teams, resolution of problems and status updates.

Product Manager vs. Project Manager — Relations

Product managers and project managers work closely together. You will find that larger companies have a distinct division between a product manager and project manager. In smaller to medium-sized companies, you will find that both roles are usually played by the same employee. The product manager will want to collaborate with the project manager to ensure that the project is running according to the specified timelines set. Both roles are important and both are dynamic in the sense that the product manager and project manager has to be continually learning to progress in the market and to make a mark in their position.

The project manager is responsible for the project on hand. They complete one project and then they move on to the next one. When they complete a project they hand off to the product manager. The product manager now has the task of caring for their product for the lifetime of the product and through all its upgrades, the addition of new features, new ingredients, and new results through all the stages of the product life cycle until the product is no longer needed and can be retired from the market.


The Product Manager and the Project Manager have different roles but sometimes the distinguishing lines are hazy. The concepts are similar and they work together in getting a product created or upgraded. While they are working towards the same end – which is a product that meets user’s needs – their roles and execution of their roles are done differently.

  • Project management has the primary focus of achieving specific internal objectives within a given timeline and a given budget. Once a project is complete there is no longer a need for it to be managed.
  • Product management has a wider focus on the external customer and the continued success of the product pass its latest project development.
  • There are instances where one person fills both roles especially in smaller companies but ideally, they should be filled by different people since they are distinct roles.

Now that you can see how these roles overlap and how they differ there should be less confusion about how they compare. They are a powerful duo and while they are different and work in different roles, their job duties do complement each other. They both have a large impact on the long term success of the company for which they work.

Originally posted 2020-04-09 17:49:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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